Learning to Trust
Bible Text: Romans 7:15-25, Matthew 11: 16-19, Matthew 11:25-30 | Preacher: Rev. Dennis Howard | Our scripture readings for todayare taken from the Revised Common Lectionary.
Our work for today is to try to understand how these two readings relate to one another.
And if they do relate to one another; as I suspect they do.
Then our work is to learn how the relationship between them helps us to better understand the meaning of these scriptures for us today.
Let’s take a look to see what we find.
First let’s look at Romans.
These verses from Romans are Paul’s classic description of the struggle humans with a conscience suffer as we vainly attempt to overcome the evil of sin solely by the force of our wills.
If we have a conscience and if we have been exposed to the word of God contained in the Ten Commandments. Then we know what sin is and we know that God does not want us to do it; to sin.
So, it is through the gift of the Law that God made us aware of our sin.
But our inability to obey the Law, through the power of human will, turned God’s blessing into a human curse. Leaving humanity forever struggling and falling short of the glory of God that is the Law perfectly lived.
How then are we to live if this is the human condition?
First, we accept the reality of sin: sin in the world, sin in our human institutions, and most importantly, sin in our persons.
We must also accept the reality of our complete inability to do anything about our innate sinfulness through exercising our won power and might.
As Paul says, “24Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
There it is.
Jesus Christ, is our only hope of overcoming the state of sin into which we are born as human beings.
And how does Jesus become the cure for our sin sickened beings?
Simply by believing.
If you want to be one of those chosen ones of whom Jesus speaks in Matthew 11:27, then you already are.
That is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gift of God’s salvation is open to, whosoever will, let them come and drink of the water of life (this is my paraphrase of Rev. 22:17 which reads, “17 The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.”)
So, if the water of life, which is the life eternal in Jesus Christ, is free for the asking, is that then the end of the matter?
It is as far as your salvation is concerned.
We by our own power and might, by our own will power, can add nothing to the perfection of the salvation that God gives to us freely through faith in Jesus Christ.
This is the truth.
And it is also true, ask any experienced Christian, that though saved by faith when we first believe, we continue to struggle with sin as we live out our salvation.
We are human beings, flesh and blood created beings.
We are set free from the law of sin and death through faith in Jesus Christ when we first believe.
And then we are left to live out our fleshly existence answering the question, “Saved by faith alone, how then shall I live?”
This is where our second reading for today comes in.
Matthew 11 teaches us the simple secret to the lived response that Jesus seeks from those who would live according to their faith in him.
First Jesus describes humanity, in its natural state of rebellion against God.
He describes them, us, as a bunch of petulant children.
Until the gracious gift of faith in Jesus as Son of God enters our life, we, like stubborn children, live in a state of constant rebellion against God.
We complain when our conscience informs us that God does not take pleasure in the things we want to do.
Things like gossip against our neighbour.
Things like complaining about our lot in life.
Things like taking pleasure in someone else’s misfortune.
In this way Jesus’ words for us today are much like Paul’s.
Both first describe the life lived when we insist on living opposed to God’s will for us.
Both then go on to tell us how to live within God’s will for us.
So, what is God’s will for us and how do we learn to live in that will?
The answer to this question, is given by both Paul and Jesus, and it is both simple and profound.
Peace with God, lived peace with God, lies simply in our submission to God.
When we accept that Jesus is Lord,
When we accept Jesus’ yoke, and we do this by faith, by wanting to drink of the water of life, we begin to learn to live according to God’s priorities.
When we take on Jesus’ yoke, through intentional discipleship to Jesus, through seeking to learn all we humanly can from our Lord about his will for living of our lives, our humanity begins to be formed a little more each day into the image of God in which we were first created, into the very likeness of Jesus.
When we begin to learn to trust in God’s will for our lives, the way little children trust their father, we begin to learn to understand the Father’s will for our lives.
And in this state of trust, entered into through faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we grow from faith to faith, from glory to glory, until at last God’s will for the living of our lives becomes our will.
And held in God’s will by simply trusting God our Father, though the trials and tumults of life surround and assail us we shall fear no evil, “for you are with me; your rod and your staff — they comfort me. Surely I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever”
The Father’s gift.
The Father’s promise to you.